Sunday, October 26, 2014

The First Priority

© 2014, R.L. Delight, Morning sun.
This summer has been an amazingly sunny and dry one for the Northern Oregon Coast. I just couldn't help but feel the need to get out and paint as much as I possibly could. Add to that a happily busy performing season with the band, a town and coastal highway overflowing with tourists, long hours of daylight, and not enough hours of rest, etc., etc. It was gloriously busy...but, I thought it was never going to stop. Every week I seemed to be thinking, "One more week and then we slow down." Finally, in the middle of this month, the last hectically busy week and weekend finished.

No more having 10 minutes to eat a meal in between activities or work, no more late nights and early mornings. Finally time to slow down, catch my breath, take stock and settle into the studio.
The rains hit about the same time. Perfect! Or so I thought. I was exhausted and behind on everything. I slowly started to pick up after the summer craziness.

Just as I was planning to make an appointment with my naturopath to continue a wellness treatment, I got bit by a spider, or so I thought. First pain and then a welt appeared on my back. It wasn't bad, just inconvenient. The next day another welt, the following day yet another. I tore apart my bedding and washed everything, vacuumed, etc, but the welts kept appearing.

I made my appointment and the doctor took one look and informed me that I didn't have spider bites, I had shingles! After giving me acupuncture and giving me a long list of what to eat and what not to eat, she sent me home with orders to rest and rethink the choice I made to run myself into the ground.

Shingles hurt worse than almost anything I have ever experienced. The lesions are not particularly pretty either. This past week I have done nothing but sleep, follow my list of instructions, read, rest, and figure out what changes I need to make so that I never have to go through this again!

The main cause that triggered my shingles, besides lack of sleep? Stress, major stress. Some of that was beyond my control and some wasn't. I have spent this past week painfully reorganizing my priorities. Would it surprise people, specially women, to hear that I hadn't put self-care as my first priority?

I eat a healthy diet and I exercise but I neglected other areas such as stress reduction and well, enough sleep. It has also been brought home to me in one painful lesson that if I want to be a good artist, and believe me I do, I need to be a healthy strong person first. I thought I knew that! So, deep breath, reorganize my priorities, get the required and needed rest on a regular basis, and move on. I do have a lot of plein air studies to work from this winter in addition to working on improving my drawing!

I had to think a while to decide if I wanted to share this on my blog. This blog is about the journey I have been on as an artist. This is part of it. I consider myself very lucky. I will recover from shingles in another week or so and go on a bit more wisely. Some people don't get a second chance to make life corrections.

So I ask this question: Do you make self-care your first priority? If not, why not? I can come up with a lot of excuses to put other things and people ahead of myself but it just doesn't work. It will bite you in the rear end sooner or later!

To your good health,

P.S. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After having chickenpox the virus sleeps in the nerve tissue of the body and may or may not become active again later in life. My mate had shingles at age 28. I am just over 50. There is a lot of info out there on the internet. Some of it good, some of it not so good. I did not get the shingles vaccine as it is not considered 100% effective. I tend be allergic to many ingredients that are included in vaccines. There is no cure for the shingles. I went with a natural care treatment under the supervision of two naturopaths. I am recovering nicely and expect to be up to full health soon.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Challenge End and Beginning

The 30 paintings in 30 days Challenge is officially ended. Strangely enough, even though I got the least finished paintings completed on this challenge, I got the most growth. More than the last two challenges put together. A lot of important things came to light this past month and I will let them unfold over the next few months as they come up.

Today I cleared off my plein air study bulletin board. Here is what it looked like before I cleared it. It was crammed with 40 plein air studies:
© 2014, R.L. Delight, Plein Air Studies
I always pin the studies as they are completed starting at the top left. It is educational and fun to see them all together because I can usually see the progress I make. This is the second time I have filled the board with plein air studies. The first time I had 35 studies. I went a bit longer before clearing it than I should have and was sort of cramming them in.
I paint on canvas that I tape to a panel for my studies. I like doing that because it is inexpensive, I am still painting on canvas, and they don't become too precious. I won't be tempted to sell my reference material either since they are not really in what would be considered a salable form. These are oil sketches, and since I don't use photos, this is what I will be relying on to paint from.
Here they are all stacked up:
© 2014, R.L. Delight, Study Stack
Since I tape them onto a panel, there is a white boarder left when I pull off the tape. Handy to label each painting with the date and other info. There are a few studies that I did on panels. They don't get pinned on the board. All together I have 77 wave studies plus several landscape studies. I haven't counted those yet, either in the wave study count or on their own. I haven't made it to 100 wave studies yet but I am getting there!
So, the board is all ready to fill again. In fact, there are already a few studies on it. You might notice a slight difference now:
© 2014, R.L. Delight, Plein Air Study Board, Fall 2014
 These studies are 8"x10" and 9"x12". Up until recently, my studies have been 6"x8".  I will still be painting 6"x8" studies when the situation calls for it but I will be painting larger studies too.

Speaking of studies, I have quite a few Short Sands studies. I want to paint a few more but my goal is to paint a larger studio painting using these studies this winter when the winds and rains are howling around my studio. I want to do some detail studies and a few more graphite sketches this fall before the weather closes in.

The sketch I posted last time is of Neahkahnie beach. This is part of the beach that is a five minute walk from my front door.  That sketch is the start of an idea for a painting of that area too. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the weather will be as predicted and I can get out first thing tomorrow morning to catch the light on the waves and mountain. It was pretty stunning this morning.
I am going to fill my study bulletin board as fast as I can this fall!


PS, I got too curious and went back up to the studio to count the landscape studies. I have at least 24, there might be a few more stashed away too. That adds up to just over 100 plein air studies, 77 of which are wave studies. Counting the finished paintings I have completed on panels I have my first well over 100 paintings done! I know that is a modest amount for some painters but it is a milestone for me. Hmmm, I wonder if I can paint double that number in a year?
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